Fostering an Inclusive Culture

October 29, 2015

This issue of Tactics takes a more in-depth look at several diversity-related topics. Highlights include an interview with Vivian Kobeh, communications director for BlackBerry Latin America, as well as articles on recruiting and hiring ethnically diverse talent and recognizing unconscious bias in the workplace.

Driving diversity in the profession

Meanwhile, the PRSA Foundation just released the results of its diversity research. Here’s an edited version of the news release:

A new survey of young Black and Hispanic PR practitioners in the United States has identified several obstacles to overcome to guarantee the success of diversity efforts in the PR profession.

“Retention, lack of mentoring and perceived workplace biases are challenges, especially for Black practitioners,” said City College of New York Professor Lynn Appelbaum, APR, Fellow PRSA, who was a co-principal of the study along with Franklin Walton, Ph.D.

The study examines the experiences of young multicultural professionals who have graduated since 2008 and are now working in the agency, corporate, not-for-profit and government/NGO sectors.

Research indicates that PR leaders could be more effective by bolstering their diversity initiatives by doing the following:

  • Be proactive in recruiting competitive multicultural practitioners.
  • Focus on retention in the workplace, especially in the group environment, to be more inclusive and build a sense of community that ensures all employees are supported and given the tools to succeed.
  • Educate employees about inadvertent bias signals and double standards in the workplace and explain how this affects professionals with diverse backgrounds.

Among the key findings are:

  • Value in the workplace: Most respondents say they can pursue success in their PR career without making race or ethnicity an issue. More than one-third report feeling “very satisfied” with their career choice.
  • Recruitment: Nearly two-thirds of young pros and employers report that the PR profession is either “successful” (17 percent) or “somewhat successful” (42 percent) in recruiting a diverse workforce. Employer perceptions closely mirror those of the young practitioners’ impressions.
  • Retention: A gap in perception exists between employers and young professionals regarding efforts to retain a diverse workforce. Seventy-nine percent of employers say the profession is “very to somewhat successful,” compared to only 67 percent of young practitioners who say the same thing.

Louis Capozzi, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of the PRSA Foundation, said that this survey is part of the PRSA Foundation’s initiative to drive diversity in the profession.

You may find the full report here.

Countdown to Conference

We’ll soon be attending the PRSA 2015 International Conference in Atlanta on Nov. 8-10.

The Tactics team will be on site reporting and tweeting via #prsaicon. Look for our daily updates on, our Twitter feed (@PRSAtactics) and in the Issues & Trends e-newsletter. We’ll have a recap of the General Sessions as well as other highlights in the upcoming December issue.

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.



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